Welcome to the New Normal. Or, The Normal as one might say these days.
From chassis quandaries, to volume surges, to robot fires, to covid outbreaks, to the EU’s new carbon rules, we’ve got a lot to fill you in on in the latest edition of The Weekly Roar.
As the volume surge from the recent Yantian shutdown adds stress to many U.S. ports, there is an especially acute shortage of chassis in the U.S. that’s causing some major headaches for ocean shippers right now. With delays and demurrage charges piling up on top of soaring FAK rates combined with carriers prioritizing the return of empties, U.S. exporters (especially those in agriculture) have had enough.
Not to mention the uneven surge of import volumes that’s placing additional pressure on the Pacific Northwest ports of Seattle-Tacoma and Vancouver, British Columbia. According to JOC, “import volumes through the PNW region of North America increased 23.3 percent year over year in the first half of 2021 as trans-Pacific carriers deployed new services and extra-loader vessels in an attempt to circumvent congestion in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland.”
And, if Yantian wasn’t disruptive enough for the industry, there’s been yet another outbreak of COVID-19—only this time it’s in South Vietnam. Based on information published by The Loadstar, “the lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) was extended for two weeks on Sunday, alongside the 19 other cities and provinces making up the entire southern region.”
Meanwhile, it seems there are some serious bugs to be worked out when it comes to certain types of warehouse automation. The online grocer Ocado was forced to cancel thousands of orders due to a fire that broke out at one of its fulfillment centers in southeast London over a week ago. The Erith warehouse’s picking robots were reported to have collided with one another, and “about 800 staff had to be evacuated as firefighters worked through the night to contain the incident,” according to BBC.
Finally, we have “the EU’s sweeping proposals to curb greenhouse emissions” that specifically target aviation and maritime shipping sectors. To learn more about what the timeline of these plans would look like, or to follow up on any of this week’s other updates, check out the article snapshots below:
In this week’s Roar, we have two severe rail problems involving the West Coast, intense boxship expansion, expert takes on the recent executive order, the first fully electric tugboat in the U.S., and the EU’s Fit For 55 Green Deal policy revision.
U.S. and Canada are dealing with a double whammy of rail problems. As of last night (Sunday), Union Pacific has shut down international container traffic into Chicago to help alleviate congestion. This is on top of the ongoing issues out in Vancouver. As CN and Canadian Pacific rail services disrupted by the wildfires in British Columbia start back up again, the resulting backlog of rail-bound imports has caused increasing vessel congestion at the Port of Vancouver. According to FreightWaves, “as of Wednesday morning, 39 ships were at anchor at Canada’s largest port,” and “the situation likely won’t improve for at least a week.”
Given unexpected delays like these, it’s relieving to know that major ocean carriers like Cosco, ONE, Yang Ming, and Maersk also seem to be jumping on this year’s boxship order bandwagon. With the sizeable number of newbuilding contracts signed in 2020 and the wave of vessel orders amounting to 4.94m TEU in 2021, “the overall orderbook to fleet ratio has more than doubled from 9.4% a year ago to 19.9% at the end of H1,” based on Alphaliner’s data.
Then, there’s the widely debated executive order recently issued by the White House in an effort to target anti-competitive behavior within American industries, including the freight railroad and ocean shipping sectors, that has inspired varying responses from many industry experts. For example, Chris Rogers, research director for global trade intelligence firm Panjiva, believes “if the FMC feels more pressure to act not just on the export side but also to look at import charging and the way the container lines carry out their business, particularly in regards to alliances, then they could see more significant upheaval.”
While the industry works to navigate the potential impact of this new executive order, Crowley Maritime Corp. has developed the first zero-emission tugboat in the U.S. According to electrek, the eWolf will service the Port of San Diego and is scheduled to set sail in 2023, “hauling with it more than 6MWh of battery power.” This alongside the EU’s Fit For 55 Green Deal policy revision (which requires green fuel use in both maritime and aviation) represent positive steps toward the industry’s goal of achieving a carbon-free future.
To learn more about the latest headlines in international shipping, check out the following article highlights:
From Ever Given’s long-awaited departure, to severe congestion in Oakland, to an outbreak of wildfires in western Canada, to improving efficiency at U.S. ports, to the IATA’s latest air cargo market analysis, it’s time to break down this week’s top stories in international shipping.
After being thoroughly surveyed in the Great Bitter Lake since March 29 and reaching a successful settlement, the Ever Given has finally set sail to Rotterdam much to the relief of its crew. Meanwhile, intense port congestion in Oakland has caused carriers including MSC, ONE, and COSCO to start scaling back calls at the Port of Oakland, so space to and from the Northern California gateway is going to be very limited over the next few weeks, according to JOC. Also, Hapag-Lloyd plans to apply a Congestion Surcharge (OCS/PCS) of $350 per container for all intermodal moves by truck and/or rail to and from the U.S. beginning Aug. 1.
In other news, the recent outbreak of wildfires in western Canada caused by the area’s severe heatwave has led to major supply chain bottlenecks as a result of rail line damages that are creating delays up to 96 hours for vessels at the Port of Vancouver. According to Bloomberg, “Canadian Pacific said late Monday that it had resumed mainline rail operations following safety inspections, but Montreal-based Canadian National still needs to repair its bridge near Lytton, B.B., the village that was largely destroyed by fire last week.”
With constant disruptions like these throwing schedules off, the FMC’s Fact Finding 29 committee established “Supply Innovation Teams,” which found four key ways to address the most pressing challenges at U.S. ports today. On one last note, the IATA’s latest air cargo market analysis revealed that volumes in May “continued to outperform pre-COVID (2019) levels — although demand in May was slower than that in April.”
Check out the following article summaries to learn more about the international shipping industry’s leading news:
In the latest issue of The Weekly Roar, HMM spends $1.57B on 12 new container ships, port congestion causes detention and demurrage fees to spike, Hapag-Lloyd makes the first digitally-controlled port arrival, JFK plans to develop a new airfreight handling facility, and the air cargo sector predicts a healthy peak season.
After signing newbuild contracts with two different manufacturers in South Korea, HMM announced that it expects all 12 vessels — each capable of carrying 13,000 TEUs — to arrive within the first half of 2024. FreightWaves also reported that “all will be installed with hybrid scrubbers and designed to be liquefied natural gas ready,” in an effort to help decarbonize the industry.
As major container liners work to add more capacity, surging import volumes and increasing delays continue to drive detention and demurrage fees through the roof. According to JOC, “the average detention and demurrage charge for containers of all types reached $1,219 by Mar. 2021, a 104 percent increase from the level seen a year earlier.”
Meanwhile, Hapag-Lloyd’s vessel, the Kobe Express, made the first official digitally-controlled just-in-time (JIT) port arrival at the Moroccan gateway Port Tanger Med on June 25. By using Wärtsilä Voyage’s proprietary Navi-Port system to share “the required time of arrival digitally with the onboard navigation system to allow the ship’s speed schedule to be adjusted for JIT arrival,” the Kobe Express was able to reduce time at anchor and save fuel.
Another recent example of industry leaders striving to optimize operational efficiency includes the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Aeroterm’s new $145 million project aiming to construct a 350,000 square-foot airfreight handling facility at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). With a start date set for September of this year, this huge investment is only “the first phase of modernization of air cargo operations at JFK,” according to Supply Chain Dive.
Also, an increase in air freight rates at the end of June shows us that air’s slow season might be over while also painting a positive picture of a healthy peak season as many predict a sharp rise in demand for the month of August. Although a lot of market factors still remain up in the air, so to speak, one UK-based forwarder told The Loadstar that he “definitely thinks it will be a very busy market, come August, on air freight from Asia globally — all the signs and forecasts are there.”
To learn more about this week’s top stories in international shipping, check out the following article highlights:
From warehouse bidding wars, to congested railroads, to six new ultra-large vessel orders, to Yantian’s impact on port congestion, to tight ocean supply, to a slow air cargo market, there’s a lot lined up in the latest issue of The Weekly Roar. First up, markets are seeing some pretty intense competition heating up for the U.S. warehouse market as companies fight for limited distribution space in the wake of skyrocketing consumer demand.
More and more bidding wars are breaking out between businesses trying to secure additional space for their inventory, and with industrial rent on the rise, we think this quote provided by Co-Founder/Managing Member of N.J.-based real-estate firm Treetop Cos. Azi Mandel sums the current climate up best:
And warehouses are not the only inland link in U.S. supply chains feeling the pain. Domestic rail networks are experiencing record volumes, with cracks appearing in the network and big demurrage costs piling up for BCOs. According to JOC.com, “In April and May, the Intermodal Association of North America reported the number of 40-foot containers traveling on rail between the Southwest and Midwest rose 45 percent compared with a year ago, 31 percent compared with the same period in 2019, and 13 percent versus 2018.”
As we get reports of vessels waiting up to 30 days for unloading in LA, things are hopefully improving over in Asia. With news that the port has returned to 100% capacity, the backlog of ships at Yantian is still an ongoing strain on the ocean shipping market. The problems at the third busiest gateway in the world have only managed to remove capacity the marketplace already couldn’t afford to lose. This, in turn, has doubled loading dwell time, tripled discharge dwell time, produced major anchorage backups, and led to surges in blanked sailings, according to Supply Chain Dive’s data.
At least shippers can look forward to the addition of six sustainable mega-vessels each capable of holding 23,500+ TEUs that Hapag-Lloyd just ordered to help keep up with high demand and modernize their fleet. Last on the list, but not least, is air cargo. According to The Loadstar, “the TAC Index is showing little change in rates, confirming indications that air cargo is – as is traditional – seeing a slow June.”
To learn more about this week’s top stories in international shipping, check out the following article snapshots:
In this week’s Roar, goods are still stuck on the Ever Given, the U.S. and EU suspended tariffs on $11.5B of products, carriers could be legally obligated to ship U.S. exports, the Port of L.A. had its busiest month ever, and the Port of Liverpool is apparently imploding with growing congestion.
It’s been almost three months since Ever Given first blocked the Suez Canal, and many companies with products onboard are still left waiting in the dark as the $600 million compensation battle between the Suez Canal Authority and the ship’s owner continues to unfold. Snuggy, a smaller UK retailer, reported that it had $550,000 of vital stock tied up in the whole ordeal.
Another drawn-out battle that’s been making headlines this week involves the civil Airbus-Boeing aircraft dispute that slammed wine and spirits supply chains with steep tariffs on imports and exports during the height of the pandemic. Fortunately for shippers on both sides of the Atlantic, the U.S. and EU recently agreed to a five-year tariff suspension on $11.5 billion worth of food, wine, spirits, and machinery goods affected by this conflict.
U.S. agricultural exporters also got another win this week in the form of a potential bill that would give the FMC the legal authority to ensure carriers are accepting their containers. According to JOC, “the legislation would require carriers to include a statement of compliance with U.S. maritime regulations, bar carriers from refusing exports, and require the FMC to publicly disclose on its website false certification and resulting penalties.”
At a time when ports are completely overwhelmed with increasing demand and surging container volumes, this bill could not be introduced fast enough for some companies. Last month, for example, “the Port of L.A. moved a total of 1,012,248 TEUs, up 74% from May 2020, when COVID-19 had stalled global trade,” marking the port’s busiest month in 114 years.
Over in Liverpool, things don’t seem to be any less busy as major delays resulting from restricted haulier access create more and more headaches for carriers and forwarders. To learn more about Liverpool’s poor productivity or any of the other leading stories this week, check out the following article highlights:
From threats to consumer enthusiasm for furniture, to the latest ocean shipping crisis, to predictions of shipping snarls lasting into 2022, to carriers suspending trans-Pacific calls in Oakland, to the addition of more time-critical air services for European shippers, it’s time to dive into the top news for this week’s issue of The Roar.
Wait, why furniture you ask? Because that industry’s problems and challenges are the perfect embodiment of what a lot of markets are experiencing right now. And furniture importers around the world are struggling to keep up with consumer demand as container costs skyrocket and vessel space remains extremely tight, especially on trans-Pacific routes. According to Furniture Today, “some fear carriers’ actions — or inaction when it comes to helping alleviate short supply and moderating costs of service — will eventually smother consumer demand for their goods.”
With the holiday season looming ahead, the recent reports of positive COVID-19 cases emerging in southern China, Southeast Asia, and Taiwan are only making the situation worse for importers. When the Suez Canal blockage brought things to a grinding halt for shipping professionals, no one expected the five-day suspension of inbound container deliveries at the Yantian International Container Terminal that followed shortly after (which has managed to even surpass the damage caused by the Ever Given’s unfortunate mishap).
And based on a recent interview with Dan Maffei, the Federal Maritime Commission’s chairman, these strains on supply chains aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The real question, however, is: can smaller U.S. importers and exporters survive another year of soaring freight costs and increasing transportation bottlenecks?
More and more carriers are also starting to suspend services at the Port of Oakland as terminal congestion and continuous vessel backlogs, resulting from the port’s labor shortage and loss of one of its four berths, severely impact Oakland’s operations. At least shippers in Europe have additional air freight capacity to help relieve some of the ocean shipping woes on their end.
According to Elliot Carlile, head of commercial air products at Metro Shipping, a lot of European-based forwarders like Metro “are very pleased to learn that both Emirates and Qatar Airways will be operating direct scheduled flights again from next week in Birmingham Airport with decent wide-bodied aircraft that will re-open the inbound capacity.” To learn more about the most recent developments in international shipping, check out the following article highlights:
In the latest issue of The Weekly Roar, we have the COVID-19 outbreak in Yantian, a new Brexit blow to UK traders, yet another cyberattack victim, the X-Press Pearl’s ongoing drama, and U.S. railroads tightening free time.
But first, if you’ve forgotten how big and dangerous the process of shipping ocean containers is, here is a scary reminder.
After several reports of positive COVID-19 cases emerged in Yantian last week, conditions at the Yantian International Container Terminal (YICT) are exactly as expected – not good – which is only placing more strain on global supply chains. According to FreightWaves, major ocean liners like Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk are avoiding the port altogether to keep from adding to the severe container congestion.
On top of this new blow, things are getting more complicated with the already touchy European trade/ Brexit situation. Germany recently announced that it would be putting an end to the VAT exemption for products totaling less than €22. Starting next month, customers will have to pay import duties on all goods entering Germany from non-EU countries as the result of recent efforts to eliminate VAT fraud and level the playing field for everyone, based on a recent article published by The Loadstar.
Also, there’s been yet another organized assault on the world’s biggest meat supplier’s servers just weeks after the cybersecurity attack that targeted the operator of the biggest U.S. gasoline pipeline — the Colonial Pipeline Co. According to SupplyChainBrain, JBA SA was forced to shut down its North American and Australian computer networks following the attack, shaking up worldwide food supply chains in the process.
Then, there’s the ongoing X-Press Pearl saga, where a vessel operated by X-Press Feeders has been burning off the coast of Sri Lanka since May 21. And based on local news reports, the ship is being held there along with the Captain, Chief Engineer, and the Second Chief Engineer until investigations are officially concluded.
Finally, we’ll end this week’s update with U.S. Class I railroads’ efforts to narrow the window of free time shippers have as a way to speed up equipment turnaround and alleviate rail ramp congestion. These changes could potentially cause increases in storage or demurrage fees in addition to piling more pressure onto trucking companies.
To learn more about the top stories in international shipping, check out the following links:
From gaps in Biden’s $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan, to gigantism in shipping, to the UK’s ‘clearance on wheels’ shipment status, to IMO autonomous shipping regulation, to choked U.S. air hubs, it’s time for this week’s top international shipping industry updates.
But first, here is an IMPORTANT SERVICE UPDATE regarding a shutdown at the Yantian Terminal in China:
Shippers should be aware that after receiving several recent reports of COVID-19 cases at the Yantian International Container Terminal (YICT), the crucial export gateway in South China announced that it will no longer be accepting laden export containers between May 28, 22:00 and May 30, 23:59. In the meantime, only export boxes arriving within four days of a vessel’s estimated time of arrival will be accepted until June 3.
Note that pickups of imports and empty container returns will continue on as usual during this period. While local health authorities tighten anti-virus safety measures to control these outbreaks, the resulting decline in YICT’s available manpower has only further contributed to the port’s severe congestion and increasing schedule delays. Between May 31 and June 6, YICT will begin accepting laden export containers again under the requirement that the vessel’s ETA falls within a minimum of 3 days. With space and equipment challenges for not only the Port of Yantian but also neighboring ports, ocean shippers with critical orders may want to consider routing alternatives and expect increased shipping rates in the near term.
Jaguar will report any additional information as it becomes available.
Take a look at a recent WSJ Number of the Day. The situation at Yantian notwithstanding, does this mean things are looking up for U.S.-based importers?
Even when the logjam that is international shipping frees itself, shippers in the U.S. look to be facing a long string of infrastructure failures that have almost become the norm, including the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, the Texas power grid malfunction, and the Hernando De Soto Bridge crack.
According to SupplyChainBrain.com, “the recent failures illustrate just how many ways the patchwork systems can break. Experts say they also illustrate a long-running flaw in the way the U.S. thinks about and pays for infrastructure: The country focuses more on building new things rather than maintaining what it has.”
We found some interesting facts on container shipping’s whirlwind transition toward gigantism, where we’re seeing colossal vessels that have increased 1500% over the past 50 or so years.
While wildly popular right now, it’s important to consider how very few ports have the capacity to accommodate these large ships, and the Suez Canal debacle illustrates just how many structural limitations these immense vessels face — not to mention the sharp uptick in container accidents we’ve been experiencing. As the industry works to figure out how to improve the efficiency of today’s container vessels, it’s also exploring ways to better regulate advancing automation.
Groups like the IMO are actively assessing Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (otherwise known as MASS) in order to identify if existing regulations can measure up to the wave of digitization that’s sweeping across the globe.
The UK’s ‘clearance on wheels’ claims status is allowing shipping professionals to minimize post-Brexit supply chain delays. For applicants who are considered both an authorized consignee as well as an AEO trader, obtaining the HMRC’s ‘clearance on wheels’ status helps companies avoid having to unload consignments at the end of transits, meaning businesses can clear customs more quickly, according to The Loadstar.
To close out this week’s Roar, we’ll switch sectors for a second and focus on how U.S. imports are overwhelming major air hubs like LAX. The problem has become so bad that many shippers and forwarders are starting to avoid these popular entry points in favor of smaller airports as a way to get out of dealing with the intense congestion increasing consumer demand is causing. If you want to learn more, check out the following links:
In this week’s Roar, we’ve got China-Europe freight trains helping the fight against COVID-19, rapidly increasing ocean shipping delays, the industry’s impending peak season, efforts to cut supply chain waste, and the rise of sustainable aviation fuel.
First, there’s something interesting happening with the China-Europe freight trains located in the Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. They are not only providing safe and reliable international transportation, but they’re also helping the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. According to China Daily, they carried 3 million doses of the vaccine in March of this year alone in addition to transporting 45,408 TEUs to Europe throughout 2020. – Click to read the full article.
With ocean liners running later than ever and average delays surpassing six days, the relief these trains provide is definitely appreciated. Given the fact that “only about 40% of container ships globally were on time arriving at ports in March” when more than 70% of ships arrived on time over the last two years, it’s no wonder retailers and manufacturers are struggling so much to keep up with growing demand. – Click to read the full article. – Click to read the full article.
That being said, it’s important to start prepping for the Christmas season now if you want to get your inventory-to-sales ratios up to speed to better manage the import boom and avoid premium charges. Take a look at FreightWaves’ SONAR Inbound Ocean TEUs Volume Index to see just how slammed American ports already are with new records being set almost every week (Click to read the full article):
One sector that could especially stand to benefit from advanced preparation and increased efficiency is the grocery industry. According to Supply Chain Dive, “stores waste more than 80 billion pounds of food (roughly 40% of our food supply) every year due to administrative mistakes, breakage, spoilage, theft, and other losses. Annually, it costs the grocery industry more than $50 billion in lost profits.” This waste, otherwise known as shrink, takes away food from those in need, severely impacts the environment, and takes a major toll on food prices, which is why many industry leaders are promoting zero shrink initiatives – Click to read the full article.
The zero shrink movement is one of many steps international shipping professionals are taking to achieve more sustainable supply chain operations. Another recent example includes Air France-KLM’s first flight capitalizing on sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF. By using old cooking oil from local sources, the biofuel represents a positive step in the right direction toward the country’s upcoming requirement that “aircraft must use at least 1% SAF by next year for all flights originating in France.” – Click to read the full article.
To learn more about this week’s top stories, check out the following article highlights:
Let’s lead off The Weekly Roar with two recent articles posted on the Jaguar Blog. Both are on our favorite topic of Logistics Technology, and both center on the recent appearance of Jaguar Freight CEO Simon Kaye on a JOC.com webcast hosted by Eric Johnson.
Click the title below to access the articles, which include select video highlights from the webcast.
Sarcasm aside, there is clearly some need for action, and the current crises may finally be the push the system needs. The first step will hopefully be the FMC finally taking action to set up an already planned shipper committee whose goal is to advise the agency on the “competitiveness, reliability, integrity, and fairness of the international ocean freight delivery system.” The idea and authorization for the committee came prior to the pandemic, but the supply chain effects that have unraveled over the last year created what Maffei referred to as a “systematic crisis.” – Read the full article here.
In news related to one of the industry’s other top stories of the year, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced plans for the expansion of a portion of the Suez Canal within the next 24-months. “Sisi said that, while further expansion to the canal had been under consideration, the grounding of the 440-metre Ever Given container ship on March 23 highlighted the urgency of the plans.” – Read the full article here.
With strong U.S. demand for many commodities and fears of inflation, the Biden administration is performing a tariff review according to the top White House economist. And, there appears to be bi-partisan support for relief. – Read the full article here.
There appear to be some systematic changes happening in Air Freight. “Cargo is now one-third of airline business,” said IATA chief economist Brian Pearce. “It used to be significant, but not the most important part of the business.” The industry is reporting high revenues and yields as demand remains strong and space is hard to come by even though there’s 20% more capacity than pre-coronavirus. – Read the full article here.
Maersk is targeting a “soft landing” for rates according to its CEO, Soren Skou. But that carrier still expects rates to “normalize at a level about historical” in 2022. But, given all the other predictions about things returning to normal by this spring or summer we’ll take a wait-and-see approach before believing anything! – Read the full article here.
Finally, things may be settling (a least a little) when it comes to Brexit and U.K. trade. It’s been reported for the first time (going back to 1997) trade volume between the U.K. and the rest of the world exceeded that with the E.U. The last year has been anything but normal for European trade for obvious reasons, so it’ll be interesting if this trend holds or not going into the second half of 2021. – Read the full article here.
To read more about this week’s most important international shipping news, check out the links below:
From a $2.6B investment in new containers, to import demand on the rise yet again, to carriers cracking down on trans-Pacific contracts, to a post-Brexit Britain buried under paperwork, to global air cargo demand outperforming pre-COVID levels, we’re back with another round of the latest stories in international shipping. To start this update off, we have a container-leasing company that recently ordered 890,000 TEUs of new containers it expects to see by July of this year.
With a total value of $2.6B, Triton’s lofty purchase is just one of the many investments companies are making to expand their fleets and meet increased consumer demand for goods. Speaking of demand, if you thought import volumes were on the decline, then you may be in for some disappointment.
According to FreightWaves’ SONAR ocean bookings data, “the current index indicates the likely level of U.S. imports later this month and in June, as departing ships arrive at American shores. The forward data for bookings due to depart from all destinations to the U.S. shows a new all-time high will be set next week. The index has continued to climb since mid-May 2020.”
Global air cargo market demand is also on the up and up, marking a 4.4% increase this past March in comparison to pre-COVID levels recorded in March 2019. While airfreight capacity hasn’t managed to reach pre-COVID levels yet, it’s also showing signs of recovery with a 5.6% MoM increase in global capacity between February and March. So, what does this all mean for trans-Pacific contract negotiations?
Given how volatile today’s ocean shipping environment has become, many shippers are shifting the focus from price to capacity in order to secure space, while many carriers are significantly lowering the amount of free time they’re allotting to customers. Across the pond, the DDC FPO’s (a global provider of business process outsourcing solutions for the freight transport and logistics industry) recent report titled, Brand New Britain: What Post-Brexit Really Means for Businesses, revealed that “nearly 70% [of respondents] expect their operations to be negatively affected for more than 12 months.”
To follow up on any of this week’s most important international shipping news, check out the links below:
With MSC’s recent launch of a global electronic bill of lading, containers falling overboard everywhere you turn, EU’s approval of the post-Brexit trade treaty, container shipping turning 65, and the mess that is O’Hare airport, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover in this week’s global freight updates.
But first, let us toot our own horn as Jaguar Freight is proud to be receiving the Global Supply Chain Award at the World Trade Week NYC. The World Trade Week NYC is an active network of more than 70 organizations in the New York metro region working together to underscore the importance of international trade, logistics and port operations to the region’s economy and to use their collective expertise to help the region’s businesses grow through international trade.
The new electronic bill of lading, or eBL, MSC introduced follows the success of the pilot programs the carrier has been running since 2019. The digitized solution is designed to allow shippers and other links in the supply chain to more easily receive and send out a bill of lading online. The ultimate goal is the elimination of untimely and costly disruptions, in addition to (hopefully) driving industry-wide standardization.
Rates and congestion aside, ocean vessels seem to be seriously struggling with keeping containers on board because we’re currently experiencing the largest spike in accidents than we’ve seen in seven years. According to Claims Journal, “more than 3,000 boxes dropped into the sea last year, and more than 1,000 have fallen overboard so far in 2021,” and these lost boxes are creating some major bottlenecks for many retailers and manufacturers.
Also trending this week is the official end of the post-Brexit trade deal. Last Tuesday, European lawmakers overwhelmingly agreed to continue free trade between the EU and UK without tariffs and quotas, marking the last step in a lengthy process to provide more stability within the strained relationship and ensure future cooperation. This breakthrough came shortly after the shipping container industry reached its 65th birthday.
From the first sailing of a converted WWII tanker that occurred on April 26, 1956, to the pandemic-driven environment we are in today, container ships have proven to be vital in facilitating global trade — accounting for transporting an estimated 45 percent of total global trade according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. And that number isn’t likely to grow any smaller given how tight air freight capacity has been since COVID-19 first emerged.
The Chicago O’Hare International Airport, for example, is so congested right now that agents are actually having to rent out warehouses to store cargo overflow. Some importers are so exasperated with the situation at this key U.S. hub that they’ve just decided to skip the overcrowded airport altogether in favor of neighboring facilities with significantly less freight traffic.
To learn more about this week’s leading issues, check out the following article highlights:
True to form, the week’s news includes many of the same challenges we’ve been dealing with the past few months. There were not a lot of new positive developments, but not too many new negatives either.
One notable exception is the labor strive in Montreal which is coming to a head. On Friday, the longshoremen at the Port of Montreal announced an indefinite strike beginning Monday, April 26 at 7am. This is an escalation of a partial strike that began less than two weeks ago. The union, which represents over 1,100 longshoremen, said the full strike comes in response to the MEA changing its regular schedules.
In other global shipping news, there’s been some progress in the Port of L.A.’s intense cargo bottlenecks. Unfortunately, much of that traffic has shifted up north to Oakland where, as of last Friday, “25 container carriers were waiting to enter the Port of Oakland at anchor in San Francisco Bay and in a holding area offshore, up from 21 at the beginning of the week and little changed from a month earlier… Outside the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the queue was 21 ships long, also about the same as in mid-March.”
A topic that’s still weighing heavy on UK supply chains is Brexit. While there has been some notable growth in Britain’s construction sector, smaller businesses definitely have some concerns regarding Brexit’s role in causing major delays for trading construction materials, which has resulted in a spike in these materials’ prices that only larger companies have been able to afford.
Another key issue that’s been building up for a while is the shipping industry’s goal to reduce maritime carbon emissions. According to JOC.com, BIMCO, the International Chamber of Shipping, and the World Shipping Council (WSC) recently just submitted a proposal to the IMO last week “asking it to start talks for adopting industrywide ‘market-based measures’ (MBMs) to reduce carbon dioxide emissions” as a way to speed up the process.
Lastly Vivo, who ranked fifth globally based on mobile phone shipment volume, is currently under fire — quite literally — for causing a pallet fire at Hong Kong airport last weekend. According to The Loadstar, an increasing number of airlines are starting to ban “all Vivo products containing lithium batteries (ion and metal) for direct or indirect carriage … as a precautionary temporary measure until further notice.”
To learn more about how this congestion could last throughout the entire summer or to read up on any of the other issues we’ve touched on here, check out the following links:
In this week’s global freight updates, we’ve got a vessel under arrest, underlying causes for U.S. port congestion, solid increases in import prices, a partial strike at Eastern Canada’s biggest port, and the ongoing, pandemic-induced container crisis. Up first, let’s dive into the latest news in the Ever Given saga which is the Suez Canal Authority’s (SCA) formal arrest of the vessel that can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
After an Egyptian judge officially released a court order allowing the SCA to seize the Ever Given last week, the SCA has announced that it will continue to hold the ship in Egypt until its $916M compensation claim is paid in full, causing quite the stir amongst the ship’s managers and insurers. As a result, the vessel’s charterer, Evergreen, is launching its own investigation against the scope of the claim and court order while also urging all of the parties involved to try and reach a settlement agreement in an attempt to free the trapped freight as soon as possible.
Over in the U.S., severe cargo delays stemming from the current container crunch keep plaguing the LA-LB ports with the blame largely falling on the rise in pandemic-induced demand for physical goods. However, these problems existed well before the COVID-19 breakout. According to JOC.com, “huge cost increases, limited ability to automate terminals, chronic avoidable disruption during contract negotiations, and far lower productivity and working hours compared with ports in Asia and elsewhere around the world are at the core of the issue.”
While industry leaders work to fix these problems, U.S. import prices are rising higher and higher because of the limitations these supply chain constraints are placing on the pent-up demand that’s being financed by fiscal stimulus checks and sustained by increased access to coronavirus vaccines. Based on Reuters’ data, “import prices rose 1.2% last month after advancing 1.3% in February. The fifth straight monthly gain lifted the year-on-year increase to 6.9%, the largest rise since January 2012. Import prices rose 3.1% on a year-on-year basis in February.”
And the cherry on top of all of this is the partial strike at the Port of Montreal that was scheduled to start this past Wednesday. Not only will this strike further escalate the port congestion across North America (given the projected 30% drop in the port’s capacity), but it will also most likely add to the already lengthy waits and soaring shipping costs logistics professionals are encountering worldwide. At one point in time, transporting a standard 40-foot container from China used to average around $1,000, but now that there’s an ongoing container crisis, some shippers and forwarders are having to pay in excess of $10,000 for the same exact space.
To learn more about how these issues are similarly affecting European ports or to get the details of the other top stories for this week, check out the following article highlights:
From uncertainty surrounding Ever Given’s impending insurance claim; to the mounting traffic jam of cargo vessels; to the necessity of supply chain fluidity; to dealing with post-Brexit change; to stormy air cargo markets, it seems like the only guarantee in shipping is that the current market volatility is here to stay — at least for now.
And, although an article regarding the Suez Canal situation from Lloyd’s List states, “It’s still too early to assess the size of the likely claim on the International Group pool,” other, more immediate impacts are moving fast through global ocean shipping networks. To see what we mean, check out the update from one of our Asian-based partners:
Please kindly note that the space situation, especially on the USEC/GULF loop, will be significantly limited throughout April and May.
*** Since a total of 5 voyages from SEA to USEC were blanked during March alone, all space on USEC/GULF has been overbooked until the end of April.
*** The Ever Given incident will cause even more blanked sailings during weeks 16 and 17. Two weeks ago some carriers, including MSC, MSK, CMA, ONE, COSCO, etc., were already forced to outright cancel FAK bookings.
*** Considering the impending low water levels of the Panama Canal, some carriers (such as COSCO and YML) have announced new weight limitations too — around 8 tons per TEU including container tare — for shipments traveling through the canal starting last week (week 14).
*** Carriers are also expecting to face heavy equipment shortages, given that the inventory of more than half of the leading ocean liners will be depleted over the next couple of weeks. This will essentially produce a domino effect of more and more carriers limiting or even rejecting bookings to most IPI points in order to ensure most MVs will be phased in and out in time before Day 5.
Like we said, we’re nowhere near out of the thick of it yet.
Meanwhile, the congestion at the Ports of LA/ Long Beach persists and the additional capacity coming online later this year may not be enough.
To read more about this international shipping news, as well the latest on Brexit’s lingering effect on supply chains and what’s happening with air cargo, click the article highlights below.
But first, make sure to read the most recent news detailing our new, innovative trade finance solution.
This week’s global freight updates have brought us a saturated airfreight market, the Suez Canal continuation, containers holding millions of dollars’ worth of goods idling off the LA coast, a potential for U.S. ports to receive major federal funding, and UK SMEs’ inability to absorb higher post-Brexit shipping costs.
After finally clearing the Suez Canal, shippers hoping to avoid this latest hit to the supply chain sector by turning to air better have a backup plan. Unless you want to “pay a premium for expedited service — on top of rates that typically are eight times greater than those for ocean shipping,” it’s looking like your options are pretty limited with demand outpacing capacity across all markets.
It’s still a little too early to tell how Ever Green’s misfortune will impact ports, especially in Europe, but experts predict that after a short lull in terminal operations, many will be on the receiving end of some intense congestion depending on when the cleared ships arrive at their destinations. Some sailings could get blanked if ships start arriving late given the already strained capacity, which doesn’t exactly help the incredibly low carrier schedule reliability we’ve been dealing with in recent months.
As for the ships holding millions of dollars’ worth of goods waiting for dock space at LA-LB ports, it seems like the situation hasn’t improved much for U.S. importers due to reduced capacity, a lack of labor, and pandemic-induced demand. According to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, “more than a quarter of imported containers at those gateways had to wait more than five days for handling once they reached the dock” in the last month alone.
With this congestion clogging most major U.S. ports, it’s become clear that the nation’s existing infrastructure could use a little (if not a lot of) TLC. When you take into account how far behind other trading nations like China the country appears to be in terms of its port and maritime framework, it makes more sense as to why the American Association of Port Authorities feels that “over the next five years, U.S. ports need $5 billion in federal funding toward water navigational projects; $20 billion for landside investments such as piers, wharves, and intermodal connections; and $4 billion for port security.”
Meanwhile over in the UK, SMEs are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to post-Brexit shipping costs and regulations. “January salmon sales, for example, plummeted 98% year on year, with beef exports only marginally less drastic, down 91%, and whisky down 63%,” based on data provided by the Food and Drink Federation. To learn more, check out the following article highlights:
Think you had a bad day at the office, well just imagine the week the Captain of The Ever Given has had! But hey, sometimes we just have to laugh otherwise we’ll cry, and this meme .gif we found on Reddit.com definitely does the trick! We promise it’s worth a watch.
But, back to the real news… With the backlog of vessels in one of the world’s busiest waterways, a range of new blocktrain and LCL services between China and Europe, the fresh spike in U.S. retail spending, a potential strike brewing at the Port of Montreal, and the prolonged labor crisis at sea, it’s important shippers are staying up to date on the latest events impacting international shipping.
Cargo ships are at an important decision point regarding the blockage in the Suez Canal, which is costing an estimated $400MM per hour. With no definite resolution to the problem in sight, the decision will need to be made whether or not to circumnavigate all of Africa to the south to avoid the traffic jam.
In direct response to a significant increase in demand for rail services resulting from excessive air freight rates and lengthy ocean transit times, “forwarders are spreading their services across the three China-Europe trade lanes — the northern corridor through Russia, the middle corridor via Kazakhstan and Russia, and the southern corridor via Uzbekistan and Turkey,” according to JOC.com. Even though volumes continue to surge throughout these adjusted routes, cargo flow is definitely improving, with minimal levels of congestion and network bottlenecks.
As for the U.S. import boom, the worst is not yet over given the recent round of stimulus checks. For those who thought the situation would return back to normal after this quarter, extreme rate hikes and sustained consumer demand reveal an entirely different story, placing a lot of pressure on shippers to figure out how they can get their transportation strategies up to speed.
A strike at the Port of Montreal is looming, as the government looks to continue negotiations to prevent a work stoppage. The main issues in dispute are work schedules, work-family-life balance, the right to disconnect, and disciplinary measures.
Last, but not least, roughly 200,000 seafarers remain stranded on vessels well past what’s considered a safe period of time, based on worldwide industry standards. With stringent COVID-19 border regulations and untimely quarantines on the line, many companies are desperately trying to avoid costly, time-consuming crew changes to the detriment of these essential maritime workers.
To learn more, check out the following links and give our latest blog, “How the Pandemic Has Shaped Today’s Supply Chains,” a read. Also, tune in tomorrow at 2 PM to hear our CEO, Simon Kaye, share his thoughts on “The New Frontier in Global Logistics Technology: Linking Customer Expectations to Customer Promise” – a webinar hosted by JOC.com.
The impact of tough market conditions is continuing. From increasing Equipment Imbalance Surcharges, to warnings of import spikes across the U.S., to warehouses that are too full, to post-Brexit container logjams, to modal shifts, we’re here to deliver this week’s most pressing news in international shipping. At the top of the list is approaching carrier Equipment Imbalance Surcharges (EIS) and General Rate Increases (GRI) scheduled to hit approximately a month from now.
According to AJOT, for example, MSC announced that “effective April 12th, 2021 an EIS will be applicable for all REEFER cargo ex. AUSTRALIA and NEW ZEALAND to USA & CANADA: USD 200 per 20’ Reefer and USD 400 per 40’ Reefer.” And for those hoping to see port congestion ease throughout the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, “anticipating record sales in 2021, retailers expect U.S. containerized exports will increase 20 percent or more each month through June,” based on JOC.com’s data.
This means that while conditions aren’t expected to get worse, we definitely won’t see any real improvements until well after this summer given the sheer strength of sustained consumer demand. Supply Chain Dive released information supporting this expectation as well, citing the availability of vaccinations and the recent stimulus checks as two primary contributors.
The anticipated boost in consumer spending is also projected to impact other major ports across the country. According to figures from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Panjiva, “overall U.S. seaborne imports in February were up more than 29% YoY and up 20% compared to the same month in 2019.”
Supply chain delays are forcing many retailers to rethink their inventory management strategy and the result is warehouse space is becoming very tight. A big reason why is that many companies are building inventory to help smooth the problems further upstream in their supply chains. And, the negative impact of port congestion is starting to show up on companies’ bottom lines.
Over in the UK, ports are facing similar container congestion and trade disruption as leading gateway terminals struggle to handle increased traffic resulting from major pileups of complex post-Brexit cross-Channel shipments. With these freight delays in ocean shipping and the insanely high freight rates in air, shippers and forwarders are having to get more creative in how they source and transport their goods in order to find a reasonable balance between price and transit time.
Whether that involves turning to multimodal consolidation routing solutions or sticking to local manufacturing options and skipping China altogether is ultimately up to what logistics professionals value within their own supply chain processes. To learn more about how these industry updates are potentially affecting your operations, check out the following links:
The goal of The Weekly Roar is to help supply chain professionals like you stay up-to-date because we all work in an industry that’s in constant flux. When ocean shippers are moving to air, 25+% of trucks leaving the UK for EU are empty, senators are calling on the FMC to back exporters, and exporters are taking unusual steps to ease the container shortage, it’s just another average post-pandemic week for us.
Here’s what you need to keep up to speed:
With ocean shipping lead times growing out of control for shippers due to the ongoing capacity crunch, some companies are turning to air in order to avoid the bottlenecks. As a result of this transition, the rise in demand for air cargo is now placing more pressure on limited belly capacity and elevating spot rates as well, causing some carriers to start investing in additional freighters as a way to expand available freight space.
As for Brexit’s impact on shipping over in the UK, “empty lorries leaving the UK accounted for 26% of all truck movements into the EU, with total loaded haulage exports down 47% last month, compared with last year,” according to the Road Haulage Association. If you factor in the steep drop in demand for UK goods, the effects of the new rigid and lengthy import process aren’t looking too good for exporters in the UK.
Back in the U.S., exporters aren’t having much luck either, with many senators reaching out to the FMC to take the necessary actions that will prevent carriers from prioritizing higher-value cargo to maximize their own profits. Meanwhile, government officials in other areas like China and South Korea are taking serious steps to try and prevent their exports from suffering the same fate.
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic has its place in all of this, too. Simon Heaney, senior manager of container research at Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd., believes “the best thing governments can do is ensure rapid and effective vaccination of their populations so that landside logistics labor capacity and productivity can be restored to pre-pandemic levels.”
To learn more, check out the following article highlights. But first, get an exclusive look at our most recent blog on “How PO Management Software Can Turn the Lights on in Your Supply Chain.”